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Thread: Top 20 skaters of all time per discipline

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    That is always the most interesting question. What are the criteria? There is a difference between an "I won lots of medals" all-star and a "I gave exquisite performances" all-star. I am sure that pangtongfan would concede that Patrick Chan is the all-time "read the protocols" champion, but not so much the all-time "look at my on-ice performances" champion.

    For me, I would give heavy weight to what the skaters accomplished after their days of amateur competitions were over. Sonia Henie brought figure skating to hollywood. Dick Button was Mr. Figure Skating for half a century. Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi were better as professional entertainers than as amateur competitors. Scott Hamilton was a better entrepreneur and impresario than a skater. And Michelle Kwan wins the lifetime achievement award in the category of overall Kwanliness.
    I like that idea, Math, of considering what skaters did after their amateur careers. Dick Button also had a good criterion: that a great skater left skating better than it was when he/she came in. So despite the fact that Sonia Henie's skating looked old-fashioned by the 1970s, she advanced the sport in several ways, including doing more demanding jumps than ladies ever did. As a pro skater, she also made skating attractive to larger audiences, both with her films and with her live shows. Without Henie, one might argue that skating would just have been a niche sport like dressage, interesting mainly to the families of people who had the money to train for years. Similarly, Button also advanced the jumps, and then later he did a lot of impresario work as well as his commentating on TV. He increased audiences and educated them as well.

  2. #17
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    I feel like lynn would be more a sentimental favorite for certain people. I'm not sure if she really belongs in the top 10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by babyalligator View Post
    I feel like lynn would be more a sentimental favorite for certain people. I'm not sure if she really belongs in the top 10.
    By sentimental favorite I think you mean people are basing it off of emotion rather than facts, right? But since skating is half sport, half art, it's a given that sentiment/emotion is very important when critiquing a skater's legacy. When people think of skating "artists" through the ages, Janet is one of the first names to come up.
    I'll be honest, despite all of her titles, I can't watch a Sonia Henie video without rolling my eyes and then having my mind wander off thinking about her Nazi ties. On the other hand, I can enjoy watching Peggy Fleming or Janet Lynn because as simple as their routines are, they're extremely graceful. Their skating has aged very well through the years. Medals and accomplishments are one very valid way to measure a skater's historical greatness, but I think that their legacy of performances is just as important. Of course one could also argue that we're not giving enough credit to skaters whose strengths were in figures, but I think the point is that skaters like Janet paved the way for skating's current freeskate-centric system and made figures obsolete.

    PS I don't mean to downplay Sonia Henie's achievements and influence on the sport. Objectively she's one of the top 5 if not #1. I just can't stand watching her skate.

  4. #19
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    This is so hard to do , it comes down to personal taste and knowledge of skating and the progression of the sport . I have been watching old videos and am very surprised at some of the skaters from the late 70's to early 80,s . I think Denise Biellman would have dominated the sport if she would have stayed amateur , she was so spectacular with her jumps and was still improving when she left . Also I really wasn't a huge Robin Cousins fan at the time but when I look back he was one of the best complete skater that had it all ! Some of these lists are just personal favourites . Last comment would be to all the Chan haters , he is so good it is not even worth arguing !!!

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointyourtoe View Post
    By sentimental favorite I think you mean people are basing it off of emotion rather than facts, right? But since skating is half sport, half art, it's a given that sentiment/emotion is very important when critiquing a skater's legacy. When people think of skating "artists" through the ages, Janet is one of the first names to come up.
    Clearly different parts of skating speak to us when judging the greatness of skater. Perhaps I am inclined to place more emphasis on the athletic aspects of skating than you are. These lists are after all, subjective for the most part. For myself, Lynn is enjoyable enough to watch. There is goodness to her skating, but it doesn't speak greatness to me. Unlike some others on this board, I do not find myself being entranced by it. I understand that she may have helped bring about the end of figures, but that is something I look at neutrally. I see it as neither a positive nor a negative.

    Perhaps there should be separate lists for greatest athletic skaters and greatest artistic skaters?

  6. #21
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    My subjective list, watching figure skating since the late 60's.

    Pairs:
    1.Gordeeva-Grinkov (ethernal beauty and unison)
    2.Protopopovs (perfection)
    3.Mishkutionok-Dmitriev (passion)
    4.Shen-Zhao (tricks AND emotions)
    5.Berezhnaia-Sikharulidze (lines , beauty, femininity and masculinity at its best)
    6.Rodnina-Zaitsev (set the new era, brought the sport further)
    7.Valova-Vasiliev (unorthodox)


    Ice dance:
    1.Torvil-Dean (a touch of God, talent and perfection)
    2.Klimova-Ponomarenko (purest technique and quality)
    3.Pakhomova-Gorshkov (passion, put the sport on the map)
    4.Virtue-Moir (talent, creativity,emotion and technique)
    5.Moiseeva-Minenkov (ahead of their time, innovators)
    6.Anissina-Peizerat (lyra, excitement, a man in leading role)
    7.Denkova-Staviski (virtuoso)
    8.Davis-White (virtuoso)
    9.Dushesnay-Duchesnay (innovation, fearlesness)

    Ladies:
    1.Yu-Na Kim (in any system either 6,0 or COP)
    2.Kristie Yamaguchi (lightness, elegance, longevity)
    3.Janet Lynn (set the standard of the present days, the reason to change the rules- short program-)
    4.Denise Bielmann (far ahead her time, longevity, the strongest influence until the present days, fittness)
    5.Michelle Kwan (lyra, beauty, quiet inner beauty shines)
    6.Chen Lu (excitement, real reserved asian beauty and refine)
    7.Midori Ito (virtuoso)
    8.Yuka Sato (pure natural beauty and longevity)
    9.Katarina Witt (longevity, physical beauty, competitiveness)

    Men:
    1.John Curry (the reason this sport was created)
    2.Alexei Yagudin (emotion, passion, technique with a touch of art)
    3.Toller Cranston (innivation, introduced the real choreography in men's skating)
    4.Stephan Lambiel (breathtaking talent, art and beauty, perfect actor)
    5.Plushenko (best jump technique but arrogance)
    6.Brian Boitano (perfectionism)
    7.Daisuke Takahashi (virtuoso, technique and personality)
    8.Patrick Chan (the best blade ever used in sport)

  7. #22
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    No Sasha Cohen?

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by FSGMT View Post
    Yes, putting Sonja Henie (3 Olympic titles, 10 world titles, best skater of the world for over a decade, the first female "domination" ever) behind Slutskaya (no Olympic title, 2 world titles, just "one" of Kwan's rivals, definitely not that kind of extraordinary skater that Henie was, for her time) is a bit
    Slutskaya was not just one of Kwan`s rivals, she was by far her biggest one. Who else even comes close. Only Tara but she lasted only 15 months at the top. Slutskaya has won 6 Worlds medals, 4 Grand Prix finals (and 9 overall medals there), a record 7 European titles, competed at 3 Olympics and medalling in 2 of them, countless number of international wins. I rate her so high due to her longevity, amazing array of achievements in a tough era, and that she might overall be the best technical skater in history considering all technical elements (jumps, spins, footwork, speed, edges).

    Henjie competed at a time the competition in womens skating was dire to put it mildly, when the technical demands were non existent, when politics was in another stratosphere to what modern skating fans can even imagine. Many of her wins were hugely controversial, her first World title over Herma Szabo which she only won since 3 of the 5 judges were Norwegian, as the 2 non Norwegian voted for Szabo. This upset Szabo so much she retired on the spot, feeling the deck was stacked against her, and created a new rule that only 1 judge per country was allowed. At the 1928 Worlds it was thought she was outskated by Maribel Vinson Owen but she was still given the win. Ceclia Colledge had clearly surpassed her in the mid 30s but the heavy politics of the day kept Henjie on top. Her father twice chased a judge who did not place her first down the street with a broom. That alone makes it hard to take much of her success that seriously, along with the time she competed in. I actually was far more generous to her than I wanted to be. I respected her record by putting her that high but from all I have heard and even footage I have seen Szabo and Colledge were the best skaters of the 20s and 30s and better than Henjie.

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 96skiluvr View Post
    No Sasha Cohen?
    For me she wouldnt even be close top 20 all time, and based on achievements she wouldnt be either. However if she is for you then make your own list, that is what I wanted people to do when I started this thread.

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    No Patrick Chan? *is utterly shocked*

    What are your criteria? Some of these skaters never won a Worlds or Olympics.
    Many people wouldnt have Chan as an all time great skater. Nothing to be shocked by.

    My criteria is a combination of factors. Achievements are obviously important, but those who contributed something to the sport in a big way that transcend their medal counts, those who make more of an overall impact, those who are just flat out considered higher caliber skaters by most observers, as well as longevity, consistency, the strength of the eras they skated in, can all be considered.

    The only skaters I included who did not win a major title are Janet Lynn and Toller Cranston, yet both are revered as amongst the best of all time because of the excellence of their free skating, and most of all what they contributed to the sport artistically. In the event you are unaware of this until now, it wouldnt surprise me, as you often seem to be out of touch with reality.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by venlac View Post
    I think kristi yamaguchi is better than Midori Ito, Irina Slutskaya..
    Despite Kristi winning more World and Olympic titles, Ito is generally regarded as the best skater of their era. Ito is still today regarded as the best jumper in womens skating history. She pushed womens jumping and technical skating to a whole new level by her presence. Kristi is not close to the best ever in any category of the sport, and mostly quietly did her thing and won titles. Still a great skater and champion, but not of Ito`s impact and greatness IMO.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by CanadianSkaterGuy View Post
    I think I know what you mean by this, but could you be more specific?
    I will give an example with a different skater.

    What elevates figure skating above the mundane sports is that it is magic.

    Here is a magic trick. I am sad. I click on this. Now I am happy. A miracle. God's in his heaven and all's right with the world.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-QNtxwpTSE

    Janet Lynn was like that, too.

  13. #28
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    Only someone uninformed of the history of womens skating would dispute Lynn is atleast a top 5 skater of all time. What she had she was magical and unlike any other skater in history. She almost single handedly was behind the eventual removal of compulsory figures too, for better or worse.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by pangtongfan View Post
    Many people wouldnt have Chan as an all time great skater. Nothing to be shocked by.

    My criteria is a combination of factors. Achievements are obviously important, but those who contributed something to the sport in a big way that transcend their medal counts, those who make more of an overall impact, those who are just flat out considered higher caliber skaters by most observers, as well as longevity, consistency, the strength of the eras they skated in, can all be considered.

    The only skaters I included who did not win a major title are Janet Lynn and Toller Cranston, yet both are revered as amongst the best of all time because of the excellence of their free skating, and most of all what they contributed to the sport artistically. In the event you are unaware of this until now, it wouldnt surprise me, as you often seem to be out of touch with reality.
    LOL, I meant I would be utterly shocked if you actually admitted that Chan should be in the top 20 -- which he should in my opinion, because he has the best actual skating skills/basics/edges/technique of most of the men on that list. At his best, he produces some of the best performances of all time (like 2011 Worlds), and he has the world records for the highest SP, the highest FS, and the highest total score. He also elevated the overall level of competition by incorporating quads after 2010 and forcing all the other men to attempt quads to keep up with him - the same way Yu Na spurred on a higher level of competition. I'm fairly sure the vast majority of people ( would have him in their top 20 (save for Chan bashers who will hate him regardless) -- even if they wanted to exclude him just because they don't like his attitude or his inconsistency, there's no denying how superior his overall skating is. With his lack of consistency, he's arguably not worthy of the top 10, but certainly in the top 20... and your excluding him entirely because of a personal hatred and your obliviousness to him being one of the best blade workers out there, seems a bit... out of touch with reality.

    And I never said Janet Lynn and Toller Cranston weren't amongst the best of all time... but I consider personal achievement to be considered a huge part of being the best of all time. Although Cranston and Lynn contributed greatly in terms of artistry, and had lovely spins, excellent skating skills and ease across the ice, however they never reached the top of the podium in major events, attributed not only to poor figures but also SP/FS segment errors that cost them. They're still arguably the two best skaters to never win a World or Olympic title, but neither belongs in the top 3 because of that. I'd certainly have Kim/Ito/Witt/Kwan ahead of Lynn in my list... but Lynn would certainly be in the top 10 with her setting a higher standard in women's skating. (Also, it's inaccurate to suggest she was singlehandedly behind the removal of compulsory figures. She paved the way for a more free skate-centric competition, and was arguably almost single-handedly behind the addition of the short program, to mitigate the value of compulsory figures -- but compulsory figures would be around more than 15 years after she competed. If anyone, it was Ito who nailed the coffin in compulsory figures.)

  15. #30
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    Ladies (based on free skating; not figures):

    Michelle Kwan
    Janet Lynn
    Yu Na Kim
    Midori Ito
    Peggy Fleming


    Men (these are all very close--it almost seems unfair to rank):

    Kurt Browning
    Alexi Yagudin
    Dick Button
    John Curry
    Brian Boitano
    Daisuke Takahashi

    ETA: OMG-I forgot my favorite men's skater--Daisuke Takahashi! I really want to put him higher but need to wait until his career is over.

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